In the late 1980's, the Acid Techno movement exploded in Belgium.
Jeff Hypp was an one of the original pioneers who put it all on the radar.
In this month's exclusive Artist Contrast feature, we interview Jeff Hypp to learn the inside story behind the birth of acid, new beat and techno.
The year is 1987, and somewhere in a dark disco nightclub in Brussels Belgium a DJ is playing electronic body music (EBM) and puts on the new single "Flesh" from A Split Second. The DJ decides to play it at 33 rpm instead of 45 rpm because somehow it just felt right. Or perhaps the DJ felt the original speed was a bit too fast for the crowd on the dance floor, but one thing was certain... it sounded great, it was slow and dark, but still had a great beat going at 90 bpm. People in the club took notice, and soon a group of guys start a record label called Subway records to jump on this new sound that they dubbed New Beat.
It was around this time that Jef Vanbockryck is hanging out in the same clubs, and is producing a mix tape compilations that showcase local bands.
Jef: Well I think my earliest start in music, I wouldn’t call it “industry”, as it was in the 80-ties more of a real “manufacturing” age, was in making collections of local bands on tapes. The Dutch word for “magazine” is “tijdschrift”, so I changed the name to “Tapeschrift” to indicate a regular publication. I was about 18 at that time.
Q: How Did You Get Your Start In The Music Industry?
Tapeschrift mix tape publications
The race was also on for Subway records to start releasing 12" singles that showcased this New Beat style of music that was just invented. Between 1987-89, Subway was busy with their new label, releasing more than a dozen New Beat style 12" singles under the names of Safe Sex, Fruit of Life, Erotic Dissidents and Taste off Sugar, who consisted essentially of the same members. They were in need of other groups to join in and expand the label.
"I produced a track called “Belgian Music Train” for which I asked Pat Krimson to help me promoting it to some record labels. That I think was the first “Cold Sensation” and thus first “Hypp & Krimson” production. I was into video production in those days and I edited a video for that song. We hauled a video recorder to the ARS records, who had a huge success with “Pump up the Jam” and played it for Patric Busschots, the ARS labelhead. He immediately wanted a full album, for Christ sake. I had only that track, so we were blown away and ran with our tales between our legs. Too much is too much. “Music Train” was later released on Dance Opera, a sublabel of Antler Records and there I stayed a while producing most of my stuff…"
- Jef Vanbrockbryk
Jef: I knew Patrick from when we were going to the same school about age 15 or so. I was deeply into punk and new wave, Pat into disco. I managed to convert him to new wave. He started playing bass in a band in our town and I was mixing live for a new wave band called “Poesie Noir”. At some of their live gigs some band called “Blue Garden” was playing, which blew my head off. They had 3 guys singing with 2 of them playing trumpet, 2 playing Korg synths and that sounded so great, only they didn’t have a bass player. I convinced Pat to move over to Blue Garden to play bass and then I became their live mixer. Then I lost sight of Pat for a few years, until around ‘88 I picked him up again – and then “Hypp & Krimson” was born.
Q: How did you meet Patrick and begin to collaborate together as Hypp & Krimson?
Cold Sensation - Belgian Musictrain
It was around 1988-89 when your author of this article was a teenager living in Chicago and was dancing 2 nights a week at this under 21 dance club called Medusa's, which had amazing DJ's that were spinning industrial and a lot of the New Beat acid music coming out of Belgium and Europe. The club scene back then was inescapable and addictive. I managed to worm my way into the DJ booth a few times to observe what records were being played so that I could immediately go out to WaxTrax! records or Gramaphone records to pick them up. Many of these records included 12" singles produced by Hypp & Krimson. My favourite 12" of theirs, and probably my all-time fave New Beat record from that movement was a release called GhostDance. At the bottom of this article you can listen to an exclusive SoundCloud mixtape called the "Jeff Hypp Megamix" that I mixed using my record collection from all the Hypp & Krimson music projects I have.
Jef: What can I say, it was truly fantastic being able to not only experience it back then, but actually be a small part of it. I saw how it grew from something that happened in a few clubs up to a world-wide phenomenon with new beat, the Belgian slow variant of house music, our creation, although it started as an accident of some dj who happened to play some new wave 12 inches on 33 instead of 45 RPM, this is a true story.
Q: What Was The Underground Music Scene Like For You In 1988-89?
Anything being released on Antler-Subway and their sub-label Kaos Dance that I find in the Chicago record stores I was immediately picking up because it was pure gold. I am still fascinated that in talking with Jef, that he was fully immersed with those releases, and that a small community of artists provided a majority of what came from that label.
Jef: I started using the Atari ST1024 because I couldn’t afford a Mac, but the Atari worked great with the Steinberg software. With that computer I used the Akai S900 producing my first tracks. More and more gear I scrambled together like almost half of the catalog of Roland drum machines (TR707/808/909) and synths (SH101, Juno106, Juno Alpha, etc.) and the Prophet 5, one of my all-time favourites, still is.
Q: What Music Gear Was In Your Primary Set-Up Over The Years?
"There were actually not that many artists on those labels and others from Antler-Subway in the early days. You had a few production teams like “Morton, Sherman & Belluci” - respectively the singer of Poesie Noire, the inventor of the Sherman Filterbank and the co-owner of Antler-Subway Records-, you had Maurice Engelen – the other co-owner of Antler-Subway – who had a dance hit machine team together with musician and studio owner Oliver Adams and Nicky “Jade4U”, some individual artists here and there and then us, Pat and me. So about 4 teams were responsible for about 90% of the Antler-Subway songs.
What was it like? I think every single thing I came up with I could immediately record, put on vinyl, most on CD and got published all over the world. What can you say? Exceptional times they were." - Jef Vanbrockryck
"We had releases on various Antler-Subway labels and around 91’ there I got the chance to start my own label, “Round & Round Records” and then it became a lot more professional, “industry” if you like, but I never perceived it that way. I was too busy producing to notice what was really going on, until people started contacting me literally from all over the world to play gigs." - Jef Vanbrockryck
Jef: I didn’t realize that at all at that time. It just moved so naturally for me, I hadn’t a slightest clue what was happening. I was extremely playful with sound at that time, but a little too naïve on all the other aspects and also very shy, so I wasn’t hanging around at clubs all the time. I relied a lot on dj’s giving me inspriration. Pat Krimson was the first, but more followed after that.
Only after I saw my records being released on labels across the globe that I realized that I must be doing something that makes sense to some people. Like I said, I was very naïve.
Q: By 1990-91' You Were Right There As The Techno/Rave Scene Was Born. What Is It Like Knowing That You Were One Of The Founders Of The Techno Movement?
By 1990-91, the New Beat scene had started to evolve into the Techno scene, which also triggered underground rave parties, where clubs and abandoned warehouses were used to showcase the newest acid techno sounds. Hypp & Krimson continued to evolve and were about to hit their peak.
It was during this era that they recorded under several names, including Ravebusters, Transformer2, RaveCrusader, Hyp-No-Tyz, Atomizer3, Basscult and others. One key thing that made Hypp's music stand out compared to other rave artists, was the use of beautiful synths that added so much more to the quality of the music.
Jef: It was all analog at those days, digital didn’t exist and so that sounded already warm by itself, to some extent, at least if you don’t deliberately make them sound hard. But that is just about my sensitivity, I never really liked the real hard sounds and was always into those lush strings and more groovy beats… The Roland and the Prophet 5 are responsible for those sounds.
But apart from that, Pat always came up with samples he picked from various kind of dance records, and both being from the 80-ties used sounds from new wave bands, the likes of “Liquid Liquid”, from which we borrowed the groove on “Cold Sensation’s “Liquid Empire”, and a piece of the title as well. I always liked to play with words next to synths.
Q: One Thing That Makes Your Sound So Original Is The Powerful Synthesizers.. What Combination Of Snyths Did You Use To Create Your Style?
Jeff Hypp with Asli Tanriverdi, vocalist on "Fruit of Love" by Transformer2 and also part of the live tour group.
Jef: Up until 1996, at that time doing mainly remixes, I was producing records for about 8 years like a maniac, working almost continuously… Like I said, then it was enough and I stopped completely. I delved into all things internet and re-started a career as a programmer, generating websites from databases, I’m talking ’98 know. After that that just went all the way up to starting technology companies, doing high end research projects, being a consultant etcetera up to now.
I simple didn’t have the focus on music, nor the inspiration anymore. And I think I was afraid of losing myself into music.
And now, after about 20 years, I’m restarting slowly making first new music productions with a bunch of artists and producers… Purely for fun.
And funny enough, my “old” music – “Paradise Place” of Basscult - is still being used, just recently on a soundtrack for an animation movie “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” and I still get some requests to play and produce …
Q: Tell Us About What You Are Up To Right Now? What Kind Of Projects Are Going On With You?
Listen to a Ghost Talk exclusive Jeff Hypp Megamix on SoundCloud featuring several of his old New Beat, Acid and Rave/Techno classics.